Review by Tom Servo
"Now what's the time? IT'S TIME TO GET ILL!!"
Pardon the lame Beastie Boys reference, I couldn't resist.
You know, second to the Shenmue saga, ILLBLEED is probably the most underrated game I've ever played. I don't know exactly why I love this game, considering every gaming publication and critic in existence despises ILLBLEED with all of their shriveled little hearts, but I do. Let's review it and see if you'll like it too.......
Meet Michael Reynolds. Michael Reynolds is a crazed fruitcake who gets his kicks by scaring people quite literally to death. Mikey boy also has a *lot* of money and way too much free time on his hands. So he blows $5,000,000,000(yup, nine zeroes) to create ILLBLEED, his very own Virtual Horror Land(TM), where guests come for the $100,000,000(yup, six zeroes) prize, but stay because they die before they can exit the park.
Now meet Eriko Christy. Ms. Christy is a 1st Class hot hottie with *naturally* purple hair who isn't scared of anything(her estranged dad terrified her to the point of fearlessness with his ''Horror Caravan'' when she was a child). She also heads up Castle Rock High School's horror film research club along with members Kevin Kertsman[The Loser], Michel Waters[The Weirdo] and Randy Fairbanks[The Dumbass].
After delivering a certifiably bizarre speech to her peers, Ms. Christy engages in a brief chat with the Loser and the Dumbass outside the school auditorium. They are soon joined by the Weirdo, who comes bearing 4 personalized invitations to ILLBLEED. Eriko is skeptical from the get-go, and decides not to attend. On the other hand; Loser, Weirdo and Dumbass are all smitten with the prospect of breezing through ILLBLEED and collecting that $100,000,000 prize. So they choose to proceed without Eriko.
Strangely enough, neither hide nor hair is seen from Eriko's three comrades afterwards. After about three days, she decides to snatch up her invitation and investigate just what the hell happened to her friends. That's where you come in to the mix....
A game that's based on unbelievably cheesy movies deserves an unbelievably cheesy storyline, and ILLBLEED has one. I love it!
The game looks more like a 1st-generation DC game than one released so close to the end of the Dreamcast's lifespan. Except for a few dull areas(Stage 2 springs to mind), most of the stages you'll traverse are easy on the eyes; Especially if you like to see lots of BLOOD! In true B-movie style, there's blood and gore everywhere in this game! It covers the walls and floors, spattered and dismembered corpses lay scattered about, and glorious fountains of warm sticky red stuff spray from characters when they're attacked. Tom Savini would shed tears of joy.
But still, ILLBLEED has a first-gen look that's nowhere near as good as it should've been, and that's not good. But I love this game anyway, graphics be damned.
While the Shop Zone where you start the game features a loud, raucous demented carnival theme, this doesn't necessarily dictate the soundtrack of the rest of the game. Nearly every musical track is extremely dark and eerie, suiting each of the blood-soaked levels to a T.
SFX are also equally good for the most part, except for the notably abominable voice acting. But the cheesiness of the dialogue sounds almost intentional somehow, like they wanted it to sound that silly. Seeing how ILLBLEED is a playable Z-Grade horror flick, I can understand why if that's true.
''Tough to learn, easy to master'' pretty much sums it up. You might be upset to learn that there's a Jump button(Platform jumping, NO!). Movement with the analog stick is a real pain in the ass on account of it's pressure sensitivity. In order to run, you must press the stick up quickly. To walk, you have to slowly depress the stick. Your speed doesn't change until you let go if the stick and depress it a second time. This can cause serious headaches during combat when you try to bolt from an enemy and grit your teeth in anguish as you see your character take damage as he/she slowly plods away from their attacker. Bummer.
Control gets a 7 because while they are difficult to learn, they actually *can* be learnt.
It's difficult to describe, but try to imagine a cross between Resident Evil, Tomb Raider and Minesweeper. The Tomb Raider and Resident Evil elements are obvious enough, but the Minesweeper part stems from the traps(AKA Shock Events) you'll encounter. Let me explain:
In 5 of ILLBLEED's 6 levels, there are all sorts of traps hidden throughout that can slice, dice, burn, pummel, impale, electrocute, bludgeon and just plain scare the holy hell out of you. In order to identify and disarm these traps, you must locate the Horror Monitor hidden near the start of each stage. The Horror Monitor works in conjunction with a meter on the top of the screen that displays your senses of sight, smell, hearing and sixth sense.
So if your sense of hearing starts pulsating and you see a telephone in the room, it's safe to guess that the telephone will ring suddenly when you approach, scaring the crap out of you. However, if you zoom in on the telephone with your Horror Monitor, you have the option of disarming the trap. If there was a trap hidden there, the phone won't ring and you'll be given extra Adrenaline Points(which are used to power the Horror Monitor).
Get it? Well, I said it's tough to explain, didn't I? But I find the gameplay insanely addictive. Oh yeah, there's also a randomizing feature to ensure that the traps are in different locations each time you play. Cool, more replay value!
Fun Factor 10/10
More fun than a barrel of stoned monkeys! I can't guarantee that you'll have as much fun playing ILLBLEED as I do, as it's definitely an experience that has to grow on you. You'll need some patience at first, but once you get the hang of it, ILLBLEED becomes a blast! Did I mention that it's funny too? Expect to laugh out loud at least a few times throughout the game(Stage 6 will have you in stitches)! All of the greatest B-movies never took themselves too seriously, and neither does ILLBLEED!
Of course, no game is for everyone. So if you're a fan of sports, racing, FPSs or just about anything 2D made past 1994, ILLBLEED might send you scurrying for the hills.
SO TOM, SHOULD I BUY THE DAMNED GAME OR NOT??
Sure, why not? If you're fan of classic B-movies, this is a must own title! Even if you aren't, it's still worth a look for it's sense of humor and fresh approach to the horror gaming genre. I give ILLBLEED a well earned 10/10!
Now, when's ILLBLEED 2 coming out?
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 03/23/02, Updated 05/05/02
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